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STRATEGIES | SYSTEMS | SALES

For STUCK Solopreneurs & DTC Founders

Get CLARITY & SCALE

Build or Scale your 6-figure Online Business with Growth Principles designed to create repeatable results within 30 days.

[Work Less & Earn More - No BS 'Hacks'. No overwhelm. No $20k+ coaching fees.]

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About me

casey parram

FOUNDER | BUSINESS STRATEGIST | COACH

Over 12 years launching, investing and consulting startups & SME’s across the e-commerce, events, fitness & music industries.

As Founder, CMO & Consultant; my previous lifestyle inevitably led to burnout.

Fast forward to 2023 and the discovery that my business superpower is helping others realise and actualise their business potential.

Now, my mission as a solopreneur is to live life doing the thing I love most: helping others build businesses they’re passionate about.

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A Solopreneurs Guide To Productivity

July 16, 202311 min read

"Don't confuse activity with productivity. Many people are simply busy being busy.” — Robin Sharma

10 Ways to get more done, whilst working less as a Soloprenuer.

I struggled with the concept of ‘productivity’ for most of my adult life, feeling like a second not spent learning or working was wasted time. Needless to say, this wasn’t sustainable and when I became a father, this ideology went out the window.

Thankfully, as I approached 30, I reached a stage where I mentally and physically could not operate at the same level and I effectively burnt out. In hindsight, I can say I'm grateful for this, it possibly saved my life, but at the time it was one of my worst periods.

I went through a restructuring of every aspect of my life, the most drastic being my career - I consolidated all my projects and went on to design and create my perfect job. Now as a solopreneur, I have built a system and processes to consolidate my learnings, make massive progress and avoid burn-out.

Here are the 10 methods I currently use for optimum productivity; this list is like a buffet, pick and choose what works for you.

If you find this useful, let me know on Twitter/Linkedin @caseyparram_


1. Define Your Why. Make It Visible When You Work

This should probably be #1 but if you want to succeed, you need to have a clearly defined why and it needs to be somewhere you are routinely reminded of it. It’s a process to either discover or define your why, but use what you have: either something you are running from, or running towards.

Allocate some time thinking about this; the journey of soloprenuership is far from smooth and this will be your greatest source of fuel when times get hard.

Essential reading: Start With Why - Simon Sinek

2. Plan Your Week In Advance (Part 1)

Every Sunday, I spend 40 minutes deciding what are the key projects I need to complete this week and which day I will work on them. My old method was to open my laptop and decide that morning what I wanted to do, but as my list of tasks continued to grow, it just resulted in overwhelm and less progress.

I like to do my big-picture thinking and planning on a Sunday as I’m usually more relaxed and, therefore, more creative. This state allows me to identify & prioritise the high-leverage projects I need to work on. You want the maximum impact, for lowest time & cost investment.

As your own boss, you need to hold yourself accountable. The most effective way I have found is to spend my time on a Sunday actually being a boss and planning the week. Use your planning power once on a Sunday, rather than 30 mins every morning deciding what to do, and then from Monday - Friday, you’re simply working for the boss.

The how isn’t important, use whatever method works for you.

Here’s an example of my week in Notion (Copy this template for free HERE)

3. Create A Task List For Each Project (Part 2)

Within each project I am working on, I have a list of tasks that need completing, this used to be a traditional to-do list. Here’s how you get more done.

Step 1. Define Success.

Clearly define what DONE looks like for each task BEFORE you start, this avoids you having too many open loops or procrastinating, thus delaying taking action. (Reminder - researching the thing, isn’t doing the thing)

Step 2. Do. Decide. Delegate. Delete.

Once you have a definition for the task, you need to assign whether this is something you need to do yourself, make a decision on, delegate (inc seek external help) or delete. As a solopreneur, most things you will need to do yourself, but some tasks require you to make a decision as you need more information. Delegation can look like getting outside expertise in the form of coaches/consultants and finally, not every task is necessary, so don’t be afraid to get rid of tasks that do not fit within your why.

Step 3. Prioritise into Now, Soon, Later.

Now = This week.

Soon = This month.

Later = This quarter.

This is determined by how much value the definition you put in step 1 will add into your business. You want high-leverage activities (maximum impact for lowest time and money investment) to be completed first.

Once you have your list created, every day you choose no more than 3 tasks that get completed by any means (Daily Big 3). If you complete more, great, if not, these 3 ensure you continue to move forward and don’t waste time. Make this a non-negotiable.

4. Learn To Say No

Your attention is one of your most valuable assets and so many things are competing for it. This is especially true if you are even slightly successful, and the higher you climb, the more resolve you will need. What you do matters, but when resources are limited, it becomes just as important what you say no to.

People, opportunities, distractions, and obligations are all vying for your time and attention, which as a solopreneur, are limited resources. If you want continued success and to make REAL progress, you need to be able to say no to anything that will not move you closer towards your goals.

I like to think of myself as having seasons within my life that dictate what my overwhelming priority is. At times, I'm in a family season where everything else is secondary. For certain weeks, I will be all in on my business. Choose your sacrifice, you can’t have priorities, there must be one north star that you optimise for; this ensures your efforts compound and it keeps your decision-making and progress directionally correct.

Essential reading: The One thing - Gary Keller / Essentialism - Greg Mckeown (two of my top 10 favourite books)

5. Proactively Remove Distractions

There is a 2.5-hour window at the start of my working day that is solely dedicated to my big 3. No calls, no meetings, no messages.

I will work in my office. A quiet, distraction-free environment.

My phone is in a different room to avoid temptation.

I use Freedom.to to block tabs/apps.

Turn off ALL notifications.

I wear noise-cancelling headphones that play white noise very quietly.

This is the greatest gift I can give you, and if you doubt the power of structuring your day like this, look back at last week and ask yourself how much progress you actually made towards your goals, vs how much progress you would have made if you did what you said you were going to do?

Whether it’s early in the morning or late at night, allocate strict time for your highest leverage activities only and see how much further you get.

6. Eat The Frog

In simple terms, get your hardest and most important task of the day done first. This is a common trick, but for a reason: It works.

If you have already identified the most important and hardest task you are going to complete today, do it first! Why first?

The rest of the day will feel easier. It’s easier to get into deep work. You have more energy. Higher mental capacity. Nothing else has had the chance to distract you. Gives you a dopamine spike after completion.

If you take nothing else from this list, start eating the frog.

7. Go For Walks

“If you can’t change the mind with the mind, change it with the body” - Andrew Huberman.

I used to think I could rely on sheer determination when it came to task completion. I’d sit at my desk and stare at the screen waiting for some sort of inspiration, worried if I left the task unfinished, I'd feel like a failure.

During lockdown, I started taking walks during the middle of the day; on one occasion, I was so frustrated that I left during the middle of a task. To my surprise, I was surprisingly relaxed on the walk and began to have ideas about how I could solve the task. I rushed back to finish it and it was completed in 20 minutes.

Now, if I have a mental block, I’ll leave my desk and go for a walk. I figured if it’s good enough for Buffet, who spends an hour a day walking, it must work!

8. Embrace Imperfection - Done Is Better Than Perfect

This is something I still struggle with to this day; I’m a perfectionist at heart but very high energy when starting projects and not good at seeing things through to completion. Thankfully, I’ve been able to overcome this, and it’s been one of the greatest liberators of this chapter in my life.

As a soloprenuer, your time, energy and effort are limited resources. You cannot complete everything to perfection, especially if you have high standards otherwise you are only slowing your own progress. You don’t have the manpower of larger companies, but you do have the agility, so in order to use this to your advantage and move quickly.

Embracing imperfection should be your first action; it’s part of the process, shows authenticity and stops becoming an excuse for procrastination. You know… “X project isn’t how I wanted it to be, so I can’t start until it’s done". You can start, and you should.

Define your MVP as the lowest possible threshold needed for you to move forward, because done is better than perfect.

9. Have Different Work Zones For Different Types Of Work

Not all work is the same, and therefore it shouldn’t be approached the same. Your environment can really affect your productivity, so I have designed different workstations that allow me to get into the mode of work that is required. Examples:

  • Standing desk = Writing

  • Normal Desk = Admin

  • Coffee shop = Emails

  • Office = Deep Work

  • Shower/Walks = Thinking Time

  • Zero Gravity Beanbag = Creative work

These are not concrete, but I find a change of environment helps me shift my energy and focus into the task at hand and also adds some variety to my day, which as a soloprenuer, is a necessity, especially if you work from home.

10. Build Your Own Sounding Board

Soloprenuers do not have the luxury of colleagues to whom we can vent, share struggles or bounce ideas off. These small social interactions serve a purpose, so you need to account for this somehow; I recommend building a small group of peers you meet with (virtually or in-person) fortnightly and have unstructured conversations with.

Ideally, these people are on a similar journey, and whilst the conversations should be unstructured, allow them to take the shape of whatever the group needs: emotional support, brain-storming, problem-solving, sharing best practices, or just some light-hearted non-work socialisation.

If you want to remain productive and avoid burnout; share the struggle.

11. [BONUS] Productivity Tech Stack

Digital Desk Timer. Get one and place it on your desk. Use the Pomodoro Technique - work for 20 mins, 5 minute break. Repeat. Do this for deep work.

Freedom.to. Blocks websites & apps so you can focus on the task at hand.

Superhuman.com. Game changer for managing emails. Everything is optimised for speed. (If you are doing more outreach - MixMax as an alternative)

Zapier. This tool can automate most things. Spend time getting familiar with it and then do a deep dive into how many tasks can be automated.

Notion. Personal preference for project management and housing information.

Slack - I like to keep work communication off my phone, slack has been a great substitute. (If you can’t get on board with slack, get a work phone. You need separation)

Last Pass - Password storer & generator. Makes it easy to share if needed.

Calendly – this is the best tool so far I’ve found to schedule appointments with me.

Grammarly – an amazing app that fixes errors in your writing.


Summary

What you do is more important than how hard you work; there are certain disadvantages to soloprenuership that when you become aware of them, you can account for with proactive measures such as the techniques I've described.

A recap:

  • Define your why & have it visible.

  • Plan your week in advance

  • Create a task list for each project

  • Learn to say no

  • Proactively remove distractions

  • Eat the frog

  • Go for walks

  • Embrace imperfection

  • Have different work stations

  • Build your own sounding board

That’s all for now! I hope you found this useful.

Stay winning.

Casey.

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